Number of Stay-at-Home Parents Is Increasing

New data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows the number of stay-at-home parents is on the increase. In 2003, there were 5.4 million stay-at-home moms and 98,000 stay-at-home dads among married couples with children 15 years old or younger. That is an increase from 4.5 million stay-at-home moms in 1994. Not only is the absolute number of married-couple stay-at-home moms increasing, but also the percentage of married-couple families with stay-at-home mothers. The largest percentage increase is for families with preschool children. The younger the children, the greater the percentage of families with stay-at-home mothers. Stay-at-home moms are in the highest percentage in both the lowest and highest income families.

A trend has developed among many Generation X (and emerging Gen-Y) parents for mothers to take time off from a career to raise their children, especially until the kids enter grade school. Many women are now delaying childbirth until they get their careers established, then opting out to have children, or are delaying the beginning of their careers to have children. An informal Harvard Business School survey of 150 female graduates in 2001 found that only 38% in their childbearing years were in the workforce.

Part of this trend may be a reaction to Gen-Xers' own childhood, when they were latchkey children because both their Boomer parents worked. They now want their children to have a better childhood and home life than they did.

Another related trend that has developed is the small uptick in the number of families with three or more children. In 2002, 28% of all births were to mothers who already had at two children. That is an increase from 25% in 1984 and 26% in 1996.

This growing number of stay-at-home moms, especially those with preschool children, represents an excellent target niche market for facilities that can meet stay-at-home mothers' weekday needs for a place they can go to meet friends, where their children will also be entertained. The largest number of stay-at-home moms comes from higher income families, so facilities targeting them need to offer New Luxury quality (see preceding article).